North Dakota's Sara Otte Coleman Wins 2018 State Tourism Director of the Year
North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman has been named national State Tourism Director of the Year for 2018. The State Tourism Director of the Year award is given to the professional whose leadership has led to the measurable improvement of his or her state’s travel and tourism profile.
Coleman was presented the honor before her peers at the U.S. Travel Association's annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference, held this year in Phoenix.
“Sara is a great champion for North Dakota, and it’s fantastic her peers have recognized her with this award,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “We’re extremely grateful to Sara and our tourism staff and partners for working diligently to attract new and returning visitors to get that legendary North Dakota experience. Tourism is a key driver of our state’s economic growth, helping to attract a 21st century workforce and generating revenue for hundreds of tourism-based businesses.”
As the state tourism director, Coleman is charged with directing industry development, strategic planning, statewide branding, marketing and media relations, stakeholder engagement and visitor services.
Since Coleman’s tenure began in 2003, North Dakota’s travel industry has grown 125 percent, now bringing $3 billion in annual visitor spending. Coleman has been dedicated to building North Dakota’s image, brand and support of small businesses and communities statewide. She has been instrumental in securing more than $110 million in funds dedicated to new attractions and statewide marketing. During her leadership the annual media budget has grown from $350,000 to more than $3 million with a consistently strong return on investment.
“Sara is a true believer in the beauty of North Dakota and the strength of its tourism industry,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “This award is both a recognition of her dedication to her state and roots, and an acknowledgment of the incredible influence her work and enthusiasm for travel has had on this industry. Sara’s unwavering commitment to telling the story of North Dakota—to the country and the world—has benefitted the people of her state immeasurably.”
The North Dakota travel and tourism industry supports more than 3,000 businesses and 42,000 jobs in all counties of North Dakota. From airports to restaurants, fishing guide services to on-stage entertainment, travel in North Dakota generates more than $3 billion in traveler spending annually.
Prior to her current role, Coleman served as a director of the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she led the organization’s efforts to increase tourism to the areas as a travel destination.
The U.S. Travel Association’s National Council of State Tourism Directors — a body representing tourism offices of all states and U.S. territories — votes on the award annually ahead of ESTO, the premier annual gathering for destination marketing professionals.
Candidates for State Tourism Director of the Year are nominated by a panel of state and territory tourism directors. A slate of three finalists is presented for selection by ballot.
For more information visit: https://esto.ustravel.org/.